The Way Back, and ramblings . . .

A month ago I could do 10 push-ups. After a fall a couple of weeks ago, I could not do a single one. Yesterday, I did 2. I fell again today - but I still got to 3 push-ups.

I get up. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.
Rabbi Hillel Goldberg

Or I keep thinking about dancing.

I've been watching dance movies that have moved me, some that inspired me as a kid, others as an adult. And I've been listening to music that first inspired me to dance. Trying to get myself to want to dance again. After this last movie, I realized I haven't lost the desire to dance at all. I still want to dance. Desperately, I think.

Aside: That last one was Dirty Dancing if you're interested.  I was about the same age as Baby when I saw it. I can tell you about 80% of my experiences of social dance can be summed up by her line, "I carried a watermelon." As in, I don't think I should really be here. But the other 20% of fabulous-amazing-beautiful dance experiences more than made up for that. Crazy, isn't it? What one beautiful tanda can undo . . .

A couple of years ago I started getting sick, getting injured, falling. When MS started to affect me in ways that I couldn't hide, I started spending my time and energy trying to avoid feeling weaker. Denial? Maybe. . .  Probably. . .  When feeling vulnerable becomes the default setting of one's life, it's easy to get in the habit of avoiding risk. Closing everything off. MS made, and still makes, me want to distance myself from my own body's experience. As if I can limit the damage using cold objectivity, neutral observation of my physical world. I stopped letting myself feel sad, angry, anxious about the symptoms -- all to avoid the emotion I still can't escape: fear.

Partner dances, social and competitive, require vulnerability for the partnership to work - or at least to work well. Closed off and separate, we're just decorating one another's arms in time with the music. When the dance partnership works best, it feels like coming home. Like belonging. I miss that so much. Familiar and safe, even with a stranger.

We can tell whole life stories to one another, and never exchange names. I can feel old injuries, new hurts, lost loves, aches for certain refrains in the music, and so much more in a partner - when the connection is open and strong. When we're both listening. It takes both partners being willing to risk. Maybe that's why I'm weirdly comfortable sharing so much in the dance in out-of-town festivals, or even when I went to Buenos Aires. I could dance my secrets without an accountable identity. Maybe I can't tell you my name, or where I'm from - but I'll tell you all the more important things . . .

"When a body moves, it's the most revealing thing. Dance for me a minute, and I'll tell you who you are." Mikhail Baryshnikov
So who am I now? What is the story of this body now, in its new state? When I hide the pain, don't favor the hip that hurts, try to look smooth and balanced - is my body lying? Am I? Is my pain, even transient pain, who I am now? Some days. I prefer the pain (as if I had the choice) to the more mercurial weakness that turns up. Pain is nothing if not reliable. The weakness? It likes surprises - especially in the heat. There's the anxiety. The fear of falling. The fear of taking a partner down with me.

If I fall, let go of me okay? I'm getting used to picking myself up. It's really ok. Pulling someone else down too? I'm too afraid of that. Just let me fall.

That's the fear talking.

Dance has always been able to pick up where words leave me. Sometimes there's just too much to tell, but in a 12 minute tanda I can share everything. And it's usually such a relief. Like letting go of a secret that's been weighing me down. Am I the only one? Do you feel lighter, less troubled, after dancing that kind of tanda? Maybe its just me.

Can't you just dance? Does it have to be such a drama? Can't it just be fun? I've been asked these questions since I started this blog. Like there's a choice. Like I could switch it off. 
I'm a Leo, sweetie. I don't have a "just" anything. 
Why would you want my "just dance"?

Doesn't matter. I can't give that anyway. I always talk too much.
In dance, as in life, as they say . . .

I'm a writer. I have the compulsion to share stories. But there are some stories only my bones, my skin, my muscles can tell. And I've been shutting all of that off. Keeping quiet. My body has become an unreliable narrator. I don't know what stories it tells anymore. What secrets it might accidentally reveal. Some days I hardly know it at all. Am I most afraid of that? That it will reveal too much? I don't know what it says. Listening to it gets overwhelming.
Maybe that's the biggest problem.

I have to find the way back to my body's experience. Listen. Dance for myself first. Then maybe I can find my way back.